Marriage; Year Three

I meant to write this post yesterday but …. I got sidetracked.

Yesterday, Farmer Ben and I celebrated our third year of marriage.

This year has been crazy! Not that we have too many years to speak of, but I have to say, this has probably been the most eventful to date…We’ve experienced a lot of changes in life and as a couple but we are in it together!

I’m very blessed to have such a wonderful husband.

We didn’t do anything extravagant yesterday… but I woke up to Ben smiling at me and fell asleep next to him, the way we do every night.

And that’s how it should be.

Happy Anniversary, Benjamin! I love you!

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Real Talk: Pure LYFT Review

Hi Friends! Long time no see! Remember when I used to blog a few times a week? Sigh… soon, we will be back to that!

Farmer Ben and I have been crazy busy getting ready for the bistro opening…it’s crazy to think that in just two days (AH!) we will be open for business!

In other news, I was recently sent a sample of LYFT to try and review.

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Not gonna lie, I typically don’t try stuff like this, but with all the late nights at the bistro, I thought it may be nice to try an alternative to my standard coffee with cream… thank you to LYFT for the sample!

Full Disclosure: I was provided LYFT in exchange for a review through Fit Approach. All opinions are my own.

So, what the heck is Pure LYFT?

From their website: “LYFT Energy Stir Sticks are an innovative “clean caffeine”™ energy product infused with all natural caffeine and vitamins that provide a sophisticated energy experience.”

They also boast “a clean taste,” compatible with many different drinks, the caffeine equivalent of a small coffee, zero calories and “no artificial sweeteners, flavors or preservatives.”  The energy comes from green coffee bean extract and vitamins B & A.

So, I figured it couldn’t hurt to give it a try.

I was pretty impressed at how quickly my sample came…it was literally in my mail box two days later.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, I’ve read about green coffee bean extract but had never tried it.

So what did I think?
Well… the packaging was pretty neat.

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And it is pretty self explanatory to use…

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This looks like something else

You peel off the label and stir the stick into your drink…. easy enough.

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The taste was …detectable. It wasn’t super sweet, but I could still taste… something and that threw me off. I must admit, I only mixed with water, the average person probably wouldn’t have noticed it, especially if mixed with tea or juice. 

I will also admit that I am kind of a weirdo with taste, sweet especially, and most people probably wouldn’t notice any taste.

Did I notice a boost in energy?

A little.

I used mine on particularly long days at work when I hit my 3 pm slump. Mid-afternoon has been especially rough as I have been up late most nights, so I’ve been  hitting the coffee pretty hard. I tried the LYFT on days when I just wanted water.

I’d agree with the statement that it is similar to a cup of coffee.

Anything not to like?

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Ugh. Maltodextrin. I do NOT like this ingredient. And I do NOT consider it clean.

I’ll let you do your own research but … it’s (usually) corn. Highly processed corn. There has got to a better way!

I’m also not a fan of “natural flavors,” I get the reasoning behind it but you don’t know what that means.

Would I buy this?

If it didn’t have maltodextrin… maybe. Again, I was pretty disappointed when I saw the ingredient list… if LYFT found a better alternative, I’d consider it… but  I am pretty committed to coffee.

Happy Memorial Day, Friends!


Siggi’s Culture Club & a giveaway{closed}!

Update: because I am late, I chose two winners! Inspired Spoons and Jennie J, you each are getting some siggi’s certificates! Email me at NoellesNotebook @gmail.com and let me know where to send!

You may or may not know this about me…but I am kind of a weirdo when it comes to yogurt. Plain yogurt is my jam. 

I do NOT like flavored yogurt. I can eat plain with fruit mixed into it, but I can’t eat the fruit-flavored stuff. It doesn’t make any sense.

Flavored yogurt makes me gag.

My stomach just doesn’t do well with pre-flavored yogurt. For my taste, there is usually WAY too much sugar/sweetener in it and I usually end up with an upset stomach and a headache.

But one day, this changed for me…on a whim, I tried siggi’s vanilla skyr (Icelandic-style, strained yogurt) . And then siggi’s orange ginger…and it didn’t make me gag! I actually liked it…And the ingredients were REAL and all things I could pronounce/possibly have in my kitchen (like real vanilla bean!)!

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The flavor that rocked my world

To be honest, I didn’t really know how to react to this earth-shattering revelation. I had identified myself as a flavored-yogurt hater for so long, I was having a crisis of epic proportions! What was I supposed to do now?! What would Farmer Ben think?!

Obviously, after this yogurt turned my world upside down, I had to find out more about the company behind the goodness. And I was very pleased with what I found.

siggi’s is a truly great brand! Their motto is “simple ingredients, not a lot of sugar.” If you check out the nutrition/ingredient label, you can see that they stick to this motto.

 I also love that the company was started by one man in his own kitchen, and has expanded. Talk about motivation!

They  are a NY company and use NY dairy. Their yogurt is made with dairy from cows that are grass-fed, and hormone-free and there are no artificial ingredients!

I realized that this was a company I could get behind.  So I did what any former flavored-yogurt hater would do… I applied to be a part of their Culture Club! I did it on a whim and honestly, I didn’t know if I’d be accepted or not (I actually told them I wasn’t big on flavored yogurt… over share!)…but 4-5 weeks later I received a magical email.

I was in the club!

A couple weeks later I received my culture club welcome kit.

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siggi's hookup

I’ve been using the bag every day.

As a long overdue way to celebrate my initiation into the culture club, I’m going to give away 5 coupons for free siggi’s yogurt to one lucky reader in the US!

The only requirement: leave a comment telling me what your favorite flavor of yogurt is.  

 I’ll announce the winner on Tuesday, May 6.

Full disclaimer: As a siggi’s brand ambassador, I received coupons (and may get product on occasion) in exchange for spreading their message of “simple ingredients, not a lot of sugar,” however all opinions are my own.

Happy Friday!


Five on Friday

I cannot tell you how ecstatic I am that today is Friday…. even though I got suckered into working at job number 2 tomorrow night with the dreaded stairs (my calves are going to be ten times bigger than they already are in a couple of weeks!). This week took a lot out of me and I so looking forward to sleeping past 7:00 am. Isn’t that such a glorious feeling?

Anyway, here are five random facts for your reading pleasure:

1. Strides for James is taking over my life… and I am kind of okay with that… I’ve mentioned it before, but this is something very close to my heart and it’s a great way to give back to the community. I’m also super excited because we are getting a post-race chocolate milk donation. For the win!!!

2.I’m wondering if there is any topic that you’d like to see more of/featured more in-depth on Noelle’s Notebook… I have this slightly-larger-than-the-blog project (idea) that I’m kicking around…but I want to know that it’ll be something people are interested in. So, any input is totally welcome! Help a girl out!

2a. To go along with said project, I want to do an “ask me anything” post/series (depending on how many questions I get).

So, if you could do me a huge favor and asking me ANY of your burning questions in the comments below, I’d be forever grateful, and will be answering all questions next week. Many thanks!

3. I am STILL doing my planks and push-ups every day… I think this is the longest/most consistent I’ve ever been with sticking to one of these challenges. It makes me feel so accomplished and I can see a little more definition!

4. I don’t remember what it’s like to have long hair. In related news, I recently had a co-worker tell me he doesn’t remember me with long hair either (who has worked with me for the last 3+ years)… so I dug up this photo….

June 2012

June 2012

To compare:

December 2013

December 2013

Weird. Weird. Weird. Long or short?

5. Current Guilty Pleasure: Rum Caramel Chocolate bar from Lake Champlain chocolates… our co-op always stocks Lake Champlain chocolate but they never seem to have this kind. I hit the jackpot the other day while shopping for my foodie penpal… I sent her one and took one home to share with Farmer Ben…and I’ll probably be going back to check and see if they have more. Pricey but so worth it.

6. Bonus Fact. I got an email from a friend today with this verse and I just had to share it with you all…food for thought:

“…From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.” -Luke 12:48, NIV

Now it’s your turn: Current guilty pleasures?  Long hair or short?

Don’t forget to ask me anything!

 


Why Can’t You Just Be Happy?

Hi Friends!

Can we have a real, honest-to-goodness conversation? I need to unload a bit…there are a lot of thoughts roaming around in my brain!

I am a big ball of nerves and randomness lately…not sure if you’ve picked up on this or not. But, as strange as it sounds, I feel more focused and clear-headed than I have in months. It’s strange; I’m all over the place, yet… I have it together (in my head anyway). Does that make any sense? Have you ever felt like that? I just feel like something big is coming… what it is, I couldn’t tell you, but it’s something important!

I’m looking forward, hopeful…but I’m also enjoying the present (mostly). This is something that I’ve always struggled with and this feeling of hope and moving forward is relatively new—and exciting! I’m ready to challenge myself and to do bigger things than I think are possible…it’s scary territory but I am finding it’s exciting and helps me push past those feelings of uncertainty.

I try to keep this relatively light-hearted on the blog… I also don’t hide my faith, but I don’t discuss it very often in this space. However, I feel like we know each other well enough that I can be truthful and open. I’ve wanted to tell this story for some time but I wasn’t sure if the time was right… today feels like the right day to take a chance and to make a confession.

The winter months are typically very difficult for me. I struggle.

I have a hard time being my best self in the winter. I don’t know how else to explain it and I never understood it in my younger years, it was just something I dealt with…I still don’t completely understand it and I still “just deal” with it.

When I was a kid,  I’d push my feelings down and focus on something else… then I would eventually have a melt-down and repeat. Not the best way to deal with things, but it got me through.

As I got older, I had a harder time dealing and pushing my feelings away. I would go to work every day, but on weekends I would hide away, not changing out of my pajamas and just trying to block the world out. Or I would cling to other people, other things, put all of my hope on them for my happiness and self-worth, which automatically set them (and me) up for failure. I never talked about my struggle.

I vividly remember a conversation with someone close to me during a particularly bad year. I was having more frequent meltdowns because I couldn’t find a good distraction and things were falling apart before my eyes, I couldn’t deny it much longer. We were having an argument and he looked at me and said “Why can’t you just be happy?”

I was stunned. And I couldn’t answer, so I did what I always did; ended the conversation and cried myself to sleep that night.

I had asked myself the same question several times but I had never uttered it out loud… I would make up excuses and just tell myself that I wasn’t happy…yet. That it wasn’t my fault. But even though the same question had always tugged at my heart, no one had ever asked me that out loud… and it hurt. It made me feel like a freak…a failure.

Even though I never answered him and that person is no longer in my life, that question has haunted me. (Looking back, I realize how completely insensitive that question was…but he had every right to ask it, even if I couldn’t answer it.)

I blamed my failure at happiness for making my life fall apart (this happened a few months after that conversation).  I took all of the blame; it was all my fault because I wasn’t good enough, I wasn’t attractive enough, my job wasn’t good enough,  I wasn’t HAPPY enough. I was messed up. Looking back, I realize that this is all bull shit (pardon my French). Yes, I did some stupid, terrible things, but sometimes things happen that are out of our control. And it’s never entirely one person’s fault.

It was a God thing… I needed to be broken so I could be made stronger. And I’ve never been more grateful for a series of events.

In a recent conversation with a good friend, this time in my life came up and she asked if I was truly “over it.” Answering as honestly as I could, I said, “Yes. I’d be lying if I said I still didn’t get upset thinking about certain things, but I have no ill will. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t still painful to think about at times, but it’s because I didn’t like the person I was then. And thinking about that former self is difficult.”

A lot has changed in the years that have passed since that question was spoken into existence.

I’ve regained my faith as a direct result of things falling apart.  It’s incredibly freeing to know that no matter how much I mess up, God is there. That He will take care of anything I give to him, even if it doesn’t always feel like it.  Yes, I still have responsibility, but He’s behind me.

I still struggle with “just being happy,” especially in the winter months, but I’ve been blessed with an incredible support system that gets it and the ability to find joy in the small things. This doesn’t mean that I don’t get down and I don’t get depressed…however, I don’t pin all my hopes and future happiness on other people and events…that’s just not realistic. But I do things that make me happy and I try not to over-obsess about the negative. And I try to be a better person and to help others.

If I’m having an off day, I admit it. Embrace it. And I talk about it… then I try to find the good and move on. Some days, this a lot harder than others.

In recent years, people ask me a completely new question and it always catches me off guard: Why/how am I “always so happy?” Quite a change, right? The answer is simple; I’m not. But, I don’t let my off days consume me as they once did.

In my slightly older/not-that-much-wiser years, I’ve discovered there are things that help me.

The number one thing is my faith, the second thing is my incredibly understanding and hilarious husband, Farmer Ben.

Running helps. A lot of people assume that I run because I want to get/stay in shape. That’s not the reason (most of the time). I run because it reminds me that I can survive and that I can persevere. It makes me feel strong and brings me a joy that I can’t completely explain. It’s also my time to talk to God. Running helps me get out of my head, get out my frustrations and my fears and just helps me … to be.

Speaking of talking to God, prayer. I’ve been a “re-Christian” for almost five years and sometimes I still have a hard time with prayer, especially praying in front of other people…but I’m finding that practice makes perfect and HE can do amazing things.

Another thing I’ve found is reading my Bible helps. I’ve always been bad about reading, but this year I am making a concentrated effort at making this a daily habit. It’s amazing what you find reading through this book. David, for example, was a man after God’s own heart. Yet, he STRUGGLED. He faced so many challenges; including someone trying to kill him… and he also struggled with “just being happy.” The first time I really read Psalms and paid attention, I was overwhelmed….speechless.

I had a lot of hard lessons to learn before I could “just be happy” and I probably still do. I suffered a lot of heartache and setbacks, but it forced me to take responsibility, to take a long look at myself and it made me move forward. Again, I’m far from perfect, but I’ve I feel like I am finally there–or at least a lot closer–even with my off days and my struggles…I’m in a good place and I’ve been incredibly blessed. Great things are happening, and there’s a plan for me (and you!) in spite of those times when I don’t feel like my best self.

Why can’t YOU just be happy?


“A List for Last Year,” A FINAL Update on 2013.

Oh hey! It’s officially 2014… I won’t get used to writing/typing 2014 until June…but it’s fine…

Anyway, I figured I should give you all one last look at how my 2013 goals were accomplished. I’ll keep it short and sweet, I promise!

Enjoy!

Noelle’s (Re-Re-Updated) List of Things to do before December 31, 2013:

1. Create a logo for the blog and go self-hosted.

Fail. That’s all.

2. Excel in my job.

I think for the most part, I do my job pretty darn well, but I’m still learning a lot… so I’ll call this one about 85%…..

3. Make 2013 a “Yes!” year/7. Be more present.

Yes. I killed this one.

5. Take more time to read.

Again, killed it.

4. Run a half marathon/6. Run 26.2 miles.

Half Marathon-I still haven’t raced it…but I’ve run it.

Marathon-Done.  So we’ll call this even.

8. Pay off at least one big bill–Get better about saving money.

Didn’t happen… 2013 was the year of random things that come up and shot our budget to Hades AND realizing that we really need an emergency fund.

2014 will be the year of actually having an emergency fund (We’re 75% of the way to our EF goal!) and being able to handle those budget killers.

On the plus side, I upped my 401k contribution and Farmer Ben started his retirement fund at work in 2013…so it wasn’t all bad!

9. Do 100 Burpees in a row.

Nope…. I can probably do about 30 without stopping…maybe 40 if I am feeling like a boss.

10. Do more food-ing.

Absolutely! Done.

Told you that it would be short and sweet… I’d say I did well… granted, I failed miserably at two of my goals…but I definitely learned something from most of these challenges. And of the few that I didn’t accomplish, we are better prepared for them this year.

2013 was a good year, but 2014 will be better… I’ve got big plans for this year and can’t wait to fill you in along the way!

Now it’s your turn! How did you do with your goals for 2013? Anything you’re still struggling with? OR, do you have any advice for 2014?! Let me know! 


Six Things, A List for #elf4health

Today’s #elf4health challenge is to list six things I love about myself.

I always have a hard time complimenting myself, even though I’m a relatively confident person and have been for most of my life. I don’t what it is, but whenever someone compliments me on something—whether it be an ability or physical attribute–I’ve always brushed it off, while simultaneously putting myself down. How silly is that?

Recently I’ve made a conscious effort to simply say, “thank you.” And that’s it.

Needless to say, this list (even though there was a similar challenge last year), has taken a bit of thought, but, here we go!

Six Things I Genuinely Love About Myself:

The crazy lady wearing red lipstick.

The crazy lady wearing red lipstick.

  1. The ability to rock red lipstick. I’m not one of those women who wears a lot of makeup…in fact, most days I barely brush my hair. It’s not that I don’t like taking care of myself, it’s just that I don’t focus on my looks very often. But, when I do take the time to get dressed up and put some makeup on, I love to make a statement. Red is one of my favorite colors and I love wearing red lipstick because it makes me feel confident, bold and classy at the same time.
  2. My legs. They’ve carried me through a marathon. They keep going when my brain is ready to give up. My legs aren’t perfect, but they’re strong and they’re perfect for me.
  3. My (obnoxious) laugh. One of my best friends always teases me about my laugh. Mostly because when we get together, we spend about 95% of the time laughing out loud—cackling! Cackling that probably causes dogs around the neighborhood to go into a barking frenzy…but I wouldn’t trade it. It not only announces my presence, but it also shows that I’m happy and that I have a sense of humor (and don’t take myself too seriously).
  4. My voice. I don’t share this with many people, but when I was a little kid, I had to take speech classes. I could understand what people were saying to me perfectly, but I was unable to articulate my thoughts. I knew what I wanted to say, but I’d trip over my words and just couldn’t get it out. I only went to speech therapy for a few short years (up until and for part of Kindergarten), but I’ll never forget that time. Because of my early struggles with communication, I’ve learned to use my words well. It’s one of the reasons that I love writing–and started blogging. It’s also one of the reasons that I don’t really get nervous in front of large groups-I’m just happy that people can understand me! I guess you could say that once I learned how to speak well, I never stopped!
  5. My Singing Voices one thing that I am sure I do well is sing. I work hard to learn new songs, harmonies and techniques. Some of my fondest memories are associated with choir/a cappella practices or just singing with my sister.  I’m part of the praise and worship team at my church (if you’d asked me 4 or 5 years ago if I would be doing this, I probably would have burst out laughing)… it overwhelms me when people come up and tell me that something I sang really spoke to them or touched them. I’m not a perfect Christian, but one of my favorite ways to connect with Him is through song…and having that come across to others is a wonderful thing.
  6. My Faith. I’ve always believed in God. However, having that personal relationship with Him is still relatively new… but it’s gotten me through a lot…and it’s changed me for the better.

So there you have it…there’s my list…. What are some of your favorite things about yourself?